English Poetry

I really should be studying History, but I can’t find my book and, um, also I don’t want to, so I’m going to procrastinate by writing out some of my favourite lines from poetry. Some of them are on the Leaving Cert course so I guess they technically count as study, but some aren’t and I’m just playing around. 36 hours before the Leaving Cert. Woop.

All Time Favourites

I’m sure I’m leaving something out but what comes to mind here:

  • Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas
  • The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot
  • Invictus by W.E. Henley (have this one written into the front of one of my notebooks)
Out of the night that covers me
Black as the Pit from pole to pole
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul
[…]
It matters not how strait the gate
How charged with punishment the scroll
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul
  • Mirror by Sylvia Plath
I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions […]
I am not cruel, only truthful. […]
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me
Searching my reaches for what she really is […]
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish
  • An Irish Airman Foresees His Death by William Butler Yeats
I know that I shall meet my fate/Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate/Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross/My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss/Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight/Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight/Drove to this tumult in the clouds
I balanced all, brought all to mind/The years to come seemed waste of breath
A waste of breath the years behind/In balance with this life, this death.

Favourite poem from each poet I’ve studied in school

Yeats — An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

Plath — Mirror or Arrival of the Bee Box

I am not a Caesar/I have simply ordered a box of maniacs.
They can be sent back.
They can die, I need feed them nothing, I am the owner. […]
Tomorrow I will be sweet God, I will set them free.
The box is only temporary.

Dickinson — “Hope” is the Thing with Feathers and one verse of The Soul has Bandaged moments

And sweetest — in the Gale — is heard
And sore must be the storm-
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm-
I’ve heard it in the chillest land —
And on the strangest Sea —
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb — of Me.

The Soul has Bandaged moments:

The soul has moments of Escape —
When bursting all the doors —
She dances like a Bomb, abroad,
And swings upon the Hours

Bishop — I don’t care for Bishop’s poetry but In the Waiting Room is quite good

I — we — were falling, falling, our eyes glued to the cover
of the National Geographic, February, 1918
I said to myself: three days and you’ll be seven years old
I was saying it to stop the sensation of falling off the round, turning world into blue-black space.
But I felt: you are an I, you are an Elizabeth, you are one of them.
The waiting room was bright and too hot. It was sliding beneath a big black wave, another, and another. […]
and it was still the fifth of February, 1918.

Durcan — Father’s Day or Sport (also like The Difficulty that is Marriage and Six Nuns Die in Convent Inferno)

Sport —

There were not many fields in which you had hopes for me
But sport was one of them. […]
It was my knowing/That you were standing on the sideline
That gave me the necessary motivation — /That will to die
That is as essential to sportsmen as to artists
More than anybody it was you/I wanted to mesmerise […]
I may not have been mesmeric/But I had not been mediocre
In your eyes I had achieved something at last.
On my twenty-first birthday I had played on a winning team
The Grangegorman Mental Hospital team.
Seldom if ever again in your eyes
Was I to rise to these heights.

Father’s Day, 21 June 1992 —

The whole way down to Cork/I felt uneasy. Guilt feelings.
It’s a killer, this guilt. I always feel bad leaving her
But this time it was the worst
I could see that she was glad/To have me go away for a while
Glad at the prospect of being/Two weeks on her own
Two weeks of having the bed to herself/Two weeks of not having to be pestered/By my coarse advances
Two weeks of not having to look up from her plate/And behold me eating spaghetti with a knife and fork.
Our daughters are all grown up and gone away.
Once when she was sitting pregnant on the settee
It snapped shut with herself inside it/But not a bother on her. I nearly died.
As the train slowed down approaching Portarlington
I overheard myself say to the passenger opposite me
“I am feeling guilty because she does not love me/As much as she used to, can you explain that?”